SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)-Swatting has become a real issue in the United States. New York has been struck by people or bots calling in that there is an active shooter, when in actuality, no threat of violence is happening.
In one day in early April, over 50 school districts experienced swatting threats. One of these schools was Westhill High School in Syracuse. Police received a call that seven students had been shot in a bathroom. When they arrived at the scene, nothing had happened.
“Both situations cause trauma,” said Roman Saladino, student at Syracuse University, “Whether the shooting threat is real or not.”
Schools have already had to prepare students for the possibility of a shooting, and now they are having to navigate how to handle swatting. Syracuse University has had two recent instances of swatting. Department of Public Safety officers have done what they feel is best to handle the empty threats in the way they feel will best benefit students.
“We don’t want to create a panic,” said DPS Associate Vice President Chief of Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services Craig Stone. “We want everyone to feel safe. Hearing these swatting calls, it makes people feel uneasy and it makes people feel unsafe.”
DPS, along with police and departments across the country, have plans in place in case a shooting were to happen. At SU, Orange ALERT would go off all around campus. Students would receive a text and call. DPS officers urge students to make sure they get texts when tests are done each month.
Students can also download the Orange Safe app. It was designed to be a place where all resources are readily available. The app also sends alerts in case of an emergency. DPS wants students to know that they are surveilling the campus 24/7 to keep everyone safe.
As for consequences for swatting, they are most likely coming. Lawmakers across New York state have been pushing to make it a felony to cause false panic for a mass shooting. State Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to sign the bill into law, as it was recently passed by legislators. In most states, falsely reporting an incident is a misdemeanor.